The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.

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The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.

The Advocate

Rising Scholars launches at CCC

Program aims to connect system-impacted students with support
Jennifer Leahy
Demetria Lawrence, Rising Scholars Program Manager, stands outside CCC’s Workforce Development office on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, in San Pablo, Calif.

In the fall of 2022, Contra Costa College announced it had received a grant of $382,500 to develop a Rising Scholars program for system-impacted students. As part of the Rising Scholars Network, CCC offers transferable courses to students at West County Detention Facility and provides access to resources and support to system-impacted students at CCC.

The Rising Scholars Network is made up of California Community Colleges that offer programs for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students. Demetria Lawrence, Achieving Equitable Outcomes Program Manager at CCC, explained, “It’s an effort from the Community College Chancellor’s Office to have support systems for these students at all of the community colleges.” 

Similar programs, such as Project Rebound and Underground Scholars, exist within the California State University and University of California systems. These programs provide opportunities for schools to collaborate and support students when they transfer. Lawrence explained the pros of this network, stating, “There are regional consultants that we work with and talk to. They organize meetings, best practices, they’re great resources.”

Mariah Bruce, Senior Academic and Student Services Manager at CCC, said that since June 2023, three successive cohorts of students at West County Detention Facility have enrolled in counseling courses, taught by CCC faculty, with plans to expand class offerings in the coming year. Lawrence said, “It’s exciting that we can do transferable courses for students as well as career education courses and let students know that, listen, you can go to college, [even] if you never thought that was an option for you.” 

After students are released from detention, housing and employment are often two of their most urgent needs. Lawrence stated that one goal of the program is to “partner with a lot of community-based organizations so that they can bridge the gap,” connecting students with resources that might not be available on campus.

At CCC itself, Rising Scholars is still evolving, supporting students one-on-one while developing connections at the college and within the community. As Lawrence explained, “We’re building the plane as we’re flying,” with an aim toward “trying to inform the campus, educate the campus, and recruit students to help bring on more students, spread the word, and build a program.”

Bruce and Lawrence say their primary goal is to get the word out and connect with system-impacted students. They’d like to support students in establishing a club and encourage them to take an active role in determining what the Rising Scholars program should look like. They also intend to establish a physical location for Rising Scholars, a space where CCC students can connect with community support services without having to leave campus. 

Any students, staff, or faculty who would like to get involved in the Rising Scholars program can do so by filling out an interest form  (also available via the QR code below). Students seeking Rising Scholars support services can reach out to Program Manager Demetria Lawrence at [email protected].










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